James Martin reveals best method for fluffy American pancakes

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Pancake Day has now arrived and whether you enjoy fluffy or crepe-style pancakes, many are checking their cupboards for flour today. Many individuals and families will be mixing batter and flipping pancakes in their kitchens today, but many will realise they have the wrong flour for their normal recipe. So can you use plain or self-raising flour for pancakes?

In Britain, pancakes are traditionally made with plain flour.

Plain flour pancakes tend to create thinner, crepe-style pancakes.

However, using self-raising flour and a raising agent tends to create thicker batter which ends up making a fluffier style American pancake.

If you prefer the latter style of pancake, you may prefer to make pancakes with self-raising flour.

How to make pancakes with plain flour


  • 100g plain flour
  • Two large eggs
  • 300ml milk
  • One tablespoon of sunflower or vegetable oil.


Place the flour, eggs, milk, oil and a pinch of salt into a bowl or a large jug.

Whisk these ingredients together to make a smooth batter.

Set the batter aside for 30 minutes to rest.

Put a medium frying pan or crepe pan over a medium heat and carefully wipe the pan with some oiled kitchen paper.

When the pan is heated, cook your pancakes for one minute on each side until they are golden brown.

Serve the pancakes with your chosen topping such as sugar and lemon, fruit or Nutella.

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How to make pancakes with self-raising flour


  • 350g self-raising flour
  • One teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
  • Half a teaspoon of salt
  • Two tablespoons of caster sugar
  • 200ml of buttermilk
  • 400ml of semi-skimmed milk
  • Two eggs
  • 85g of unsalted butter.


In a bowl, sift your flour together with the bicarbonate of soda, salt and sugar.

In another bowl, mix together the buttermilk, milk, eggs and butter.

Then gradually pour the wet mixture into the dry ingredients, stirring to combine, but being careful not to overmix as it will make the pancakes very dense.

Melt a small knob of butter in a large frying pan and use a ladle to pour some batter into the pan to make a pancake.

Cook your pancake for around a minute until the underside is golden brown and the top is bubbling.

Flip the pancake over and cook for the same amount of time.

Serve your pancakes along with your chosen toppings which could include grilled bacon and maple syrup.

Tips to make the best pancakes every time – no matter which type of flour you use:

  • Check the freshness of your baking powder/bicarbonate of soda as old or expired powder will provide ineffective raising.
  • Sieve your dry ingredients to avoid lumps.
  • Do not overmix once the wet and dry mixtures are together as it will lead to very dense pancakes.
  • Allow your batter some time to rest, ideally 30 minutes.
  • Cook your pancakes over a low heat to avoid burning
  • Wipe your pan between each new pancake.
  • Add sparkling water to your pancakes to make the batter light and crisp.
  • Keep pancakes warm in the oven while you make more pancakes.

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